HP Scrubs Edgeline MFP Program

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Mar 30, 2010

Not quite three years since the initial launch, HP has officially discontinued its Edgeline MFP program. The two Edgeline-based color MFPs, the CM8050 and CM8060, were introduced with a great deal of fanfare and market speculation–not only because of the unique ink-based marking technology employed in the products but also because these were the industry’s first products to offer a usage-based pricing model with a multi-tiered pricing scheme for color. HP’s intent with the Edgeline platform was to challenge traditional color laser-based MFPs, and ultimately drive color adoption in the office by lowering the per-page printing costs.

HP has little to say about the cancellation of the program, except to confirm that it has discontinued production of the CM8050 and CM8060 effective immediately. With inventory still available, HP says it will continue to offer the products as part of its MFP lineup through Spring 2010. Moving forward, HP will build out its own laser-based MFP portfolio for non-MPS customers. For MPS customers, HP will continue to sell HP-branded products and Canon-branded MFPs available through the Canon alliance. According to HP, the firm will support all outstanding warranties, including all Service Level Agreements for current HP CM8060/CM8050 customers. HP also says it will provide service and parts support for the Edgeline-based MFPs for five years after the final shipment date.

The demise of HP’s Edgeline-based MFPs comes as little surprise to most. The program has struggled from the beginning for a variety of reasons. Many point to reported technical issues related to print quality and paper registration. Yet, it has been HP’s lack of channel and service infrastructure that has been the primary contributor to its limited market success.

As we pointed out when the products were announced three years ago, it will always be difficult for HP to gain significant penetration in the A3 MFP market with no real representation in the traditional office equipment channel. These types of MFPs are typically leased under a click-based service contract, and HP’s reseller channel is simply not equipped to support that type of sales/service motion. This has long been a problem for HP in its efforts to crack the traditional copier market–going all the way back to the introduction of its original Mopier product.

HP admitted as much when the Edgeline-based MFPs were announced, noting that the products would primarily be sold through direct engagements with large corporate accounts. The CM8050 and CM8060 served an important role for HP in its initial forray into Managed Print Services (MPS). Yet, once the Canon partnership was announced it became clear that HP would begin to phase out the Edgeline MFP products. HP needs Segment 4/5 devices to support its MPS and balanced deployment strategies but the Canon alliance provides the firm with access to Canon’s laser-based MFPs, which will fill that role quite well. In short, HP does not have an adequate channel to move the volumes needed to support the Edgeline platform long term.

It should also be noted that the cancellation of the Edgeline MFP program does not mean that Edgeline technology will completely go away. HP is quick to point out that it continues to invest in Edgeline technology for areas such as photo retail and production printing. Indeed, InfoTrends believes that HP’s Edgeline technology has long legs in products such as wide-format, photo kiosks, and the inkjet Web press.

InfoTrends does not view the cancellation of the Edgeline MFP program as an indictment on inkjet technology for the office. In fact, HP has been quite successful pushing its serial inkjet technology into business applications–primarily for SOHO and SMB customers–as have many of its competitors. Meanwhile, Xerox’s solid-ink based ColorQube MFPs have achieved significant penetration in the office workgroup segment. Xerox claims that it has sold as many ColorQube MFPs through the first nine months of sales as HP was able to sell of the Edgeline MFPs over the 3-year life of the program.

Several vendors continue to invest in inkjet imaging technology for the office–both for page-wide and serial implementations. For its part, Xerox says that its investment in solid ink remains very strong and that it will continue to bring new solid-ink based products to market.

Indeed, the business inkjet category is one of the most active segments in the market right now. According to InfoTrends’ recently published U.S. Single-Function Printer and MFP Market Placements report, sales of business inkjet products increased 29% in 2009 compared with 2008. Similar growth rates for business inkjet products are occurring in other geographic regions, both in developed countries and in emerging markets. Clearly, the business inkjet segment is a bright spot and one of the most attractive opportunities for growth in the imaging and printing market.

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